Ruchika M. Khanna
Chandigarh, March 30
Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Thursday said the paddy and wheat monoculture has hit the state, which has led to groundwater depleting rapidly.
He said a committee has been formed under Chief Secretary V K Janjua to look into the alternatives to growing paddy.
The committee would be visiting villages and taking to farmers to find out what crops could be grown as a replacement for water guzzling paddy, said Mann.
It may be mentioned that recently two of the most prominent agriculture scientists--Dr Gurdev Singh Khush and Bikram singh Gill--had met with the committee and recommended that paddy be replaced with basmati, short duration variety - PR 126, soybean and maize.
The Chief Minister said that the committee headed by Chief Secretary would submit a report to him.
“We are looking at alternative crops to paddy that consume less water. Our focus is on cotton and to promote its cultivation, we will ensure adequate water for cotton crop till the tail end from April 1. A 33 per cent subsidy will also be given on cotton seeds to ensure that cotton is not affected by whitefly and pink bollworm. To mitigate the losses, the crop insurance will be introduced shortly,” he said.
Talking of basmati, he said that Markfed would be nodal agency for procuring basmati if the prices fall.
“We are setting up two Centres to assess the pesticide residue in basmati and ensure that our basmati meets all the standards set by importing nations,” he said.
Mann also said that the government will be asking farmers in four cotton growing districts of Mansa, Fazilka, Bathinda and Muktsar not to grow moong as it acts as a natural host for whitefly, which later and attacks cotton,” he said.
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